I have been working on an illustration commission that is giving me lots of “crisis of confidence” anxiety that has led to lots of mental blocks. I, therefore, had to take a break and do something that was still arty but much looser, something that was not following a plan or a vision, just to be playful and make me feel less intense in my creativity. Time to tootle around in my art journal then. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt of “23” because it allowed me to be abstract and just produce 23 of something without it all having to generate an overall illustration or coherent image. Indeed, needing a break from illustration as I was, I didn’t use a pencil or a pen to create any sort of guidelines and just went straight in with a brush absolutely loaded with water and some paint. What I ended up with was a collection of 23 (if I counted correctly!) overlapping pebble shapes. They aren’t trying to communicate anything, they aren’t about anything, they are simply shapes on a page. This page was just the quick liberating exercise I needed to recharge my batteries and return to the illustration job.
I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve with this winter inspired art journal page. Unfortunately, as I was still recovering from illness and was very fatigued, my execution did not meet up with that vision. There are layers of patterned origami paper that I wanted to show through more, to suggest the patterns frost makes on surfaces. I was, however, too heavy handed with the paint and a lot of that pattern detail has been lost. I do, however, think that the figure I painted clearly personifies frost and ice and cold. I could have kept fussing with this page a bit but I was out of energy even more than I was out of time. Maybe I will return to it at some point when I feel better. Probably not. In the meantime, I will say that taking some time for creativity while I was flopped on a sofa was beneficial.
Well my determination to make and preserve time for art this year did not get off to a flying start in January. I have been solo parenting since the beginning of the year and then I came down with some gnarly virus that caused me to have a fever for three days. That illness, however, meant I had to take a couple of days off work to recover and recuperate when I was fit for nothing that could not be done on the sofa. I, therefore, put together something in my art journal. I used an Art Journal Adventure prompt – Food – as my inspiration. I love cooking and eating so I decided to construct a simplified self-portrait which then combined with a Carmen Miranda type headdress composed of clippings of magazine photos of food. It’s a very simple page, quick and easy to put together, but it was good food for the soul to actually do something creative when I was feeling so gross.
Keeping my promise to myself to conserve art time, I created this art journal page in two 15 minute shifts over two days: the first used to collage the background and the second to add the paint layer. I painted the negative space so that the pig emerged in the collage layer while the background got knocked back a bit by using diluted acrylic. The pig is the subject of my first art journal page of the year because 2019 is the year of the pig according to the Chinese zodiac. I love pigs and love drawing them so any excuse to create a pig is all right by me.
*Edited to add* Many thanks to bcparkinson for pointing out my error. Oops! Can you tell I created this late at night? Oh dear. I’ll have to do the art version of white out and collage over the 8 and turn it into a 9. Lesson learned, people: best not to commit thinks to ink or paint when you are bone tired.
I desperately needed the therapeutic, decompressing assistance of some art time yesterday so I made some time and cracked open the pages of my neglected art journal. I had not experimented with any of the items in my December Art Snacks box so I reached for that and decided to see what emerged on the page. As is so often the case, what I drew was a female figure. I gave her completely unrealistic anatomy as far as the arms are concerned (I have literally no idea why) and, thanks to the nature of the media in the box, I kept the figure monochromatic. The pop of colour came from a bold red, chunky paint pen. The nib was much larger than I am used to working with so attempting leaves was probably – definitely – a challenge too far. However, leaves aside, I am pleased with how the page turned out and am definitely pleased that I was able to benefit from some time at my art table.
I was off work today while my kids were in school for the morning so, with some bonus free time, I grabbed the opportunity to do some art. I had not found time to play with the supplies in my November Art Snacks box so I got those and my art journal and set to work. The Liquitex acrylic gouache I received was in a deep turquoise colour, one of my favourite colours, and I let that inform the subject matter as I thought the colour would suit an illustration of the Statue of Liberty. I didn’t want to try and draw the actual sculpture, however, so I drew my version of the iconic figure, changing her pose, hair, and face, but leaving enough elements for the subject to be obvious. I have not used gouache much generally and have never used acrylic gouache so this piece was a big experiment in media for me. I liked that I could use it thick on the crown but that diluted down it behaved a bit more like watercolour, which is how I used it on the body of the figure. I even managed to get some watercolour-like pigment blooms going. Gouache and I never got on well in the past, which is why I have barely used it, but I may have to give it another go.
I had to redeem myself and my art journal after the hideous beetle page so I returned to what for me is apparently a favourite subject – skeleton women. I have no idea what in my psyche or imagination keeps compelling me to illustrate these skeletal ladies. I just go with it. This one was an experiment with a colour palette of orange, rusty red, and teal. I like the combination and can see me using it again. While the orange and red suggest rust, the teal suggests verdigris so they all work together quite well thematically as well as in terms of colour.
I probably won’t return to either of my art journals for the rest of this month because I am going to be consumed with other art projects. I am still filling my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook with zombies and I am also participating in Drawlloween. I have joined in with Inktober the past couple of years but this year I decided to push myself out of the habit of just doing ink linework illustrations by joining in with Drawlloween. I am working bigger than in previous years and I am adding colour. That’s the plan anyway. You can follow the results of both of these projects on my other blog, Pict Ink, or on Instagram.